Top 5 Sites to Help you Choose a Real Estate Agent
When it comes time to find a real estate agent, we always recommend shopping around. Having the internet at your fingertips makes your job that much easier. Or does it?
While the web offers virtually endless information, not all of it is accurate or trustworthy—believe it or not, fake reviews are something you need to be aware of! So, how do you know when you’ve found an experienced, reputable real estate agent?
To help, we’ve put together this guide to help you find the most reliable resources. We’ll also provide some insider insight about how real estate agent review sites work (many of them have questionable practices).
3 Steps to Choosing a Real Estate Agent
When choosing a real estate agent, there are three items you should keep in mind to make the best decision.
- That they are property licensed.
- That they have a solid sales record.
- That they have sufficient, legitimate reviews from actual clients.
Step one is easy. Most states in the country have a license lookup feature online. Here is Oregon’s Real Estate Agent License Lookup Tool, and here is Washington’s.
Next, the five sites below can help you determine if the real estate agent has a solid sales record and sufficient actual client reviews.
Top 5 Real Estate Agent Sites to Help you Choose a Realtor in 2022
There are a few good sites out there to help you find an agent, and we have some tips about how to make the best use of these sites below.
Realtor.com has a Find a Realtor section on their site. They require that realtors include their assigned NAR realtor number. (Not all sites require this.) They also give you a good overview of the agent’s presence in the market and their consistency by listing all of their active listings and many of their closed sales in your area.
Huge Warning: real estate agents are default sorted on Realtor.com according to “most recent activity”, which means the last agent to sell a house that day will show up first on the list, even if it is the first house they ever sold. In our opinion, you have to change the default filter to get any value out of the Realtor.com Find a Realtor feature. Changing to most reviews or recommendations isn’t a great place to start either, because Realtor.com has no verification method in place to ensure any of the reviews are from actual clients (could be friends, foes, relatives, etc.). But with Realtor.com you can change the filter to Most for Sale Listings or Most Sold Listings – this is the ticket to answering item #2 above – looking for a solid sales record. Now unfortunately, Realtor.com doesn’t show all the closed sales in a real estate agents career, only the homes they sold under the current Brokerage they are with.
This site allows you to compare real estate agents and commission rates and it doesn’t take any money from you or from the real estate agents listed on their platform (unlike many of the other sites listed below). You do have to enter in your information to see the local agent comparisons, but you can do so without worrying they are going to charge the real estate agent a huge chunk of their commission or charge you for the service. It truly is free.
3. Zillow’s Agent Finder
Zillow used to be at the top of the list as a resource for finding top notch agents. But it’s changed. In both its focus and its methodology. (Learn more about these changes and what we think of them.)
Their Agent finder lets you search by location (city), agent name, specialty, and even language. You’ll find the most recent reviews near the top, and when you click through, you’ll be taken to a profile representing the entire company, which could also contain hundreds of agents.
Huge Warning: Zillow’s Agent Finder will place agents (or entire companies) at the top of the list that have collected the greatest number of reviews (unverified reviews that could be coming from friends, foes, and family members). They’ve turned their agent search feature into a program often gammed by those agents willing to pay for “reviews” in order to show up at the top of the list.
As it stands now, there’s no way of knowing if agents reviews on Zillow are legitimate. You can, however, find information about the number of homes sold and the number of active listings – if you click on an agent or Realty company you’re researching. Their Agent Finder used be sorted by experience – the highest number of sales in an area – but that feature is gone now. There is not even a way to change the filters to find out who has the most (or any) experience in a particular area.
4. Homelight.com’s Top Agents Lists
Huge Warning – Don’t give up your information. If you do, any Realtor you talk with that can be found on that platform will have to pay Homelight a huge chunk off their commission, which can possibly lower the level of service or features that Realtor could otherwise offer you – if you contacted them direct. Homelight and many other such “Agent Finder” websites declare themselves to be free, but they in fast will take many thousands of dollars from your home sale in the form of a referral fee. Homelight.com does crunch some interested numbers on local real estate agents performance, you can find their top Portland Realtor list here.
While ThreeBestRated isn’t an explicit Realtor search site, you can get a quick at-a-glance view of the top three agents in your area. They use a 50-point inspection method to identify the top three with focus on a variety of items. Take a look. You’ll find us there. This is a great resource because it’s an independent third party.
Other Real Estate Agent Finder Sites
Huge Warning: Upnest will take a massive chunk of the Realtor’s commission if you go through their platform. Upnest promises three to five commission quotes from top agents in your area within 24 hours of submitting your personal information. The site does provide comparison between local agents that serve your area, so it is useful, but at what cost? If you sign up at any point and Upnest matches you with a few agents – those agents will remain bound to pay Upnest many thousands of dollars in commissions.
MyAgent Finder, Fast Expert, Ramsey Solutions, Etc.
These sites are like Upnest above, but without as sophisticated matching or comparison systems.
What About Google and Yelp Reviews to Find a Real Estate Agent?
Many folks use Google and Yelp to help them find a Realtor, but is it a good idea?
Google and Yelp Real Estate Agent Reviews
Unfortunately these reviews are not vetted, meaning you have no way of knowing if the review is from an actual client, co-worker, friend, family member, or foe.
Focus on a Clean License and Local Sales Experience, then Browse Reviews
You can verify a real estate agent’s license standing (it will also show any marks and lapses on their record and how long they’ve been licensed) and you can verify at least some of their sales through Realtor.com, Zillow.com, or Homelight.com. You can compare commission rates at HomeOpenly.com for free (unlike most sites). But there isn’t a place (anymore) where you will only find verified client reviews. You can check out ThreeBestRated knowing they’ve done some of their own homework, or you can simply browse around and see what online reviews you find, taking them in with a grain of salt, knowing that many may not be genuine.
For Local Agents, Your Best Bet is to Look Them up Directly
Type in real estate agents in Google maps and see who is nearby. Then check out their websites and use the above methods to vet them for yourself. Finally, give them a call direct and schedule an interview to see if they are the right fit.
While going to all this effort might seem like a lot of work, you’ll be glad you did it in the end. If the sound of an in-depth search makes you tired, at the very least, look at these two things when searching for a real estate agent. You’ll be ahead of the game if you do.
Check us out while you’re at it.
Our small team has completed over 2,000 local home sales since 2003. We have the experience, qualifications, and (actual) reviews to ensure a professional, satisfaction-filled experience. Contact our top 1% buyer’s team or our top 1% seller’s team, or chat with the bot on our site. You’ll be glad you did!April 11, 2022